Giving Back to a Wounded Warrior

Thomas Wayne Vandeventer was born on June 11, 1983 in Dallas, Texas. Thomas is the second oldest of 5 children. His father served in the Air Force during the younger years of Thomas' life and he lived in Tucson, Arizona and Valdosta, Georgia before his father left the Air Force and brought his family to North East Texas. Thomas, along with his family, moved to Rains County in 1994.

Thomas loved being outside and playing sports. He started playing pee wee football when he was 9, and started playing at school in the 7th grade. He also ran track and competed in pole vault, during his high school years. Thomas graduated from Rains County High School in 2001. He also loved hunting and shooting. Thomas spent a lot of time out on property on County Roads target shooting and hunting. After high school, Thomas worked construction and some plumbing. Unfortunately, his boss and father like figure passed away from a heart attack and that left Thomas looking for a job and wondering about what he wanted to do.

May 2003, at 20 years old, Thomas joined the Army to be a Armor Crewman(19K). He signed up in Greenville, Tx and went to MEPS in Dallas. Thomas went to Basic Training and OSUT at Fort Knox, KY. His first duty station was Ft. Hood, TX. He got to FT. Hood in September 2003 and was assigned to A-CO 2/12 CAV. His first deployment came 4 short months later in January 2004. He was deployed to Camp Bonsai in Baghdad. After 15 months in Iraq he returned to Ft. Hood with a Purple Heart after being part of some sort of blast and receiving shrapnel wounds.

October 2006, Thomas returns to Iraq with D-CO 1/5 CAV. He was deployed to Camp Victory /BIAP.

February 5, 2007, Thomas is out on patrol. As a matter of fact, they were at the tail end of their patrol getting ready to head back to Camp. Thomas was the driver of #2 Humvee out of a 3 truck convoy. His Humvee is hit. As it turns out, they were hit with an EFP.
Thomas received major, life threatening wounds. He lost both of his legs and coded 3 times. His battle buddies brought him back and kept him alive. Thomas was flown to Germany and then on to San Antonio, where he would spend the next year of his life trying to recover and learn a new way of life. He fought hard, and endured 21 surgeries.

Thomas is confined to a wheelchair. The way his amputations are make it nearly impossible to wear/use prosthetics. He is very independent and strong, and uses a manual chair. Thomas has a beautiful outlook on life. You NEVER hear him complain. Thomas said " Times were tough in the beginning. Things didn't start getting better till I embraced that there was nothing I could have done to stop what happened to me and that by moving on and living would be the ultimate payback to the assholes that detonated that IED, because that is what they were trying to take from me." Unfortunately, being confined to the wheelchair makes doing much of anything outdoors nearly impossible.

It is my hope and desire to raise enough funds to be able to purchase Thomas a Zero Turn Lawnmower so that he can get some outside time again. It has to be one of the Zero Turns that are operated by the hands, so that he can drive it. We have been blessed and recently bought a house with almost 2 acres. This lawn mower will enable Thomas to tend to his hard earned property and also give him the ability to explore it a little. I feel that this will restore some of the independence that was taken from him.


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LeAnn McCracken Escobedo 
Royse City, TX
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